Presentation Vs Content

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There's a widely held belief in web circles that the separation of content from presentation is the Holy Grail in the goal of reusable content.

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) was originally not a presentational language, but Browser Wars changed that. You got elements such as <font>, <b>, and <i> which had no meaning beyond the description of how to present content within the element.


This resulted in bloated, less efficient content authoring, and much whining from geeks like me (Jeremy Dunck).

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) was designed to be better at accomplishing presentation of content than HTML alone could allow.


CSS is a Good Thing. It is a huge step towards content in the form of HTML, and presentation in some other format. This lets the HTML content be repurposed, to a limited extent.


For example, a good bit of the presentation that can be changed just by changing CSS, and leaving the HTML the same.

Even so, there's been a Holy War in CSS circles as to the extent that this grail of separation should be pursued. The fact is that not every kind of presentational tweak and trick can be done by CSS alone, and that often results in people changing HTML to help the CSS tweak along.


What is the pragmatic idealist to do? Which side of the war are you on?

The W3C recognizes that CSS can't completely manage the task of separation, and that's why there's Extensible Stylesheet Language Transform (XSLT), and Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL).


--- IMHO, there's no sense having a Holy War over this topic, as true separation can not be accomplished using only HTML and CSS anyway. For example, who says that the source format of content is actually HTML? Even putting content into HTML format may be a concession to presentation. --Jeremy Dunck

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